Topshop dress, shoes and clutch, Amanda Uprichard coat
Test drove some dresses for this year's NYE and I think I'll be going with a Topshop dress with easygoing heels and some fluff for good measure. I want to stay pretty low key this year but I thought it would be nice to dress up a bit for dinner at the very least - the pairing of understated metallic with low-heeled suede sandals somehow works for me. Topshop is seemingly always the place for me to find the right dresses for all sorts of occasions at the very last minute. Really need to work on improving my procrastination!!
I'm sticking to this sleek, shimmery number, but I've picked out a few dresses and shoes that would be great for a night out or for wardrobe inclusion overall:
Topshop dress, shoes and clutch, Amanda Uprichard coat
AYR coat, Zara top and boots, Rag & Bone flight bag, Céline sunglasses
Towards the end of the year, if there aren't already any major travels planned, I like taking short spurts of trips during the weekends. I love the cold but I get restless if I stay hibernating in one spot for too long, so these weekend jaunts are the perfect remedy for the scattered soul. These past few weeks with three-day trips to Palm Springs, San Diego, San Francisco, and Three Rivers have really locked in my abilities to pack lightly and just go- utilizing this Rag & Bone flight weekender bag for doing so also helped.
This leather flight bag is burly without compromising chic--that's my kind of luggage. The bag, much like the brand in its entirety, breathes coolness into simplicity. It also leaves just the right amount of space for a few days of leisure, allowing you to pack the necessities for easy travel, like a pair of sneakers, a sweater, a pair of jeans, a backpack, etc. Check below for my go-to styles for city travel and the end of this post for my recommendations on where to go and what to do in SF during a quick trip:
What to do: go bike riding through Golden Gate Park- not going to front here, I don't know how to bike properly so I tried a tandem bike with my boyfriend and it was a ton of fun; attend a show at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium; game night at Brewcade; bask in the quiet beauty of Sutro Baths; explore aquariums and museums altogether at the California Academy of Sciences; walk and picnic at Crissy Field with a gorgeous view of the Golden Gate bridge.
Where to eat: for breakfast, try snagging a seat at Zazie and try the "La Mer", their crab eggs benedict. A generous amount of crab meat sits atop avocado, green onion, and an english muffin, slathered in an addictive, zesty hollandaise sauce right under perfectly poached eggs. I like the taste of lemon/lime on just about everything so I request for a few extra wedges of lemon for the crab bennies. The line for Zazie's goes pretty deep, especially for brunch, so it'd be a good idea to go early.
For a quick/cheap bite, you must(!) go to Arizmendi Bakery. They have excellent pastries, bread, and pizza- the pizza is the best thing there. They make something different every day and most of what I've tried are just as tasty, but I try to go on days they serve their triple mushroom pizza with a sesame-garlic-ginger vinaigrette. It is SO good. Sourdough and organic thin crust pizzas made to perfection. For the ride or flight back home, stop by Saigon Sandwich in the TL and pick up a Vietnamese sandwich before heading out of the city. They use the perfect bread and know how to marinate their chicken, pickle their carrots and make their pate. No more than four dollars for a delicious, fulfilling sandwich-- crazy, right?
Dinner options are endless, but people in SF take their food seriously so there's bound to be a bit of a wait wherever you go. While I can make reservations weeks/months in advance, sometimes I like going up to SF on a whim so I wouldn't exactly know where to dine just yet. These are a few places that I've gotten to try without a rez and/or are worth the small wait: 1) 1760 on Polk Street in Nob Hill; innovative combination of flavors with beautiful plating. Delicious cocktails to boot! 2) Stone's Throw; while their menu is rather small, quality is guaranteed. Their duck pate/mousse pretzel in particular is delightful. 3) State Bird Provisions is my ultimate favorite (and not just in SF). The wait is always long for this, but the trick is to go here about 45 minutes before they open for dinner and just wait for a little bit. It beats going later and waiting 1-2+ hours. Though time is precious for a weekend trip in SF, you will not regret waiting for this gem- it's a dream watching the chefs prepare the food and every bite of food is a journey in itself.
Another post on what's packed in my Rag & Bone flight weekender bag to come x
Paige cardigan, top, and flared jeans
For the holiday season I joined up with Paige to style some of their new denim and outerwear pieces for a Holiday Style Guide. When it comes to denim I usually stick to skinny and boyfriend fits, but I thought it was appropriate to switch it up with flared jeans to go with a floor-sweeping chunky knit (my favorite from their outerwear collection) for the rare cold weather we're actually experiencing here in LA. The extra long hem and stems together feel the coziest to me.
I really respect Paige Denim's mantra - "live in it" reminds me not only to turn to my favorite tried-and-true jeans when opportunities for adventure call, but to also feel authentic in the threads I put on, to feel like what I wear is my second skin. Though I usually wear skin-hugging fits, it's easy to feel comfortable in a new fit when Paige's styles are effortless and timeless.
Photos by Grant Legan
B.S. Taqueria: 514 West 7th Sreet
I'll be starting a new series of posts on recommended spots to dine and wine at, highlighting a few of my favorite dishes and notable drinks to try at these restaurants. The first of which will start with my preferred stomping ground in Los Angeles: Downtown. There's been a huge boost in activity in the last year, with a burgeoning restaurant scene and festive events happening around town. Though it can be hectic navigating the streets, I love DTLA because everything is accessible within walking distance-I can spend a full day out and grab the tastiest breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and shop for the holidays in just a half mile radius.
Check below for my picks on where to eat for BLD, as well as the perfect shop to pick up tasty treats.
Breakfast spread with the Salmon Tartine
L: outdoor patio seating area; R: the French Toast
Le Parfait with homemade yogurt and granola and a cap to start
Breakfast: start your day off with a well-balanced tartine and a picture-perfect parfait, or simply a petit déjeuner at Pitchoun Bakery. Either way, you get a slice of French cafe culture and quality at this artisanal boulangerie.
My boyfriend and I stumbled upon Pitchoun Bakery after managing to wake up pretty early on a Saturday and was charmed by its bright outdoor seating (you don't see that too often in downtown). Finding it was sort of serendipitous as I'd just told him a few days prior how much I sorely missed Paris so we decided to check it out. I walked through the doors and straight into wafts of freshly baked bread and snips of conversations in French between employees behind the counter. Perfect.
Although we were up early enough for breakfast, we'd tried their sandwiches, a "French Club" traditional cooked ham with gruyere cheese, mayonnaise, butter lettuce, tomatoes on a croissant!! for me, and a "Croque-Monsieur" for the boy... both were delicious and authentic. You could taste the crispness and freshness in the bread. I went back on another day to try their breakfast menu. They make everything in-house, so you really can't go wrong. You should definitely try their salmon tartine, Le Parfait (with homemade granola!), and bag a couple of croissants for later. Fresh-squeezed OJ tastes just like I remember it in Paris, and Pitchoun Bakery also boasts yummy coffee. If you're looking for a cozy spot with an authentic French flair, this is it.
Lunch: one of my go-tos in this area is the new kid on the block, B.S. Taqueria. It's vibrant, it's fun, and it's delicious. No, it doesn't stand for what is more commonly known as "bs", but actually "Broken Spanish"... and that kind of explains the whole vibe here at B.S. Taqueria quite nicely. LA is known as a destination for authentic Mexican food with taco trucks and mom-and-pop Mexican restaurants galore. But no one really had created a space for contemporary dining approaches with elements of Mexican tradition. Enter B.S. Taqueria, where you can find "authentically inauthentic" fare in an upgraded casual dining experience.
L: warm setting at B.S. Taqueria; R: the "Campechana Verde", their version of a ceviche made with scallop, squid, shrimp, octopus, and snapper with tostadas
The "Grilled Brentwood Corn"
L: shrimp tacos with the rest of the gang; R: mushroom/garlic tacos
A lot of the menu items are unique in the way that they are fresh takes on street favorites, e.g. rice and beans are actually crispy, with garbanzo and cannelloni beans; chicharrones made from chicken; grilled corn with kewpie(!) and guajillo butter. And although their chorizo/papas, lengua, and clam/lardo tacos are delish, vegetarians will be happy to know that their mushroom/garlic (and seasonal cauliflower) tacos are THE best... like out of this world good. Not only are the flavors mouthwatering, but the texture play with soft corn tortilla, warm chewy mushroom, and crispy garlic chips is golden.
My best tip for new diners is to go in a group of four; that'll make it easier to cover more of the menu at B.S. Taqueria, and because you have to have to have to leave room for their churros and tres lesches cake. Come back during dinnertime to try out their impressive cocktail menu, with my favorite ones being the "Cascabel" and "Gordo Cup".
(And when you're ready to go to the next level, check their older, more serious sister restaurant, Broken Spanish.)
The rosewater rice pudding with pistachio
L: the large doors of 10e Restaurant facing 7th Street; R: the power spread
Cute arrangement of cups found near their kitchen
10e Restaurant: 811 West 7th Street
Dinner: I settled on trying 10e Restaurant after hearing a friend rave about it, and was not disappointed. To start off, my dear friends Rachel and Adam and I had ordered their spreads to go with their delicious bread (that I'd learned later was gluten-free, whaaat): a plate of fresh hummus made with tahini and chickpea, a plate of labne (strained yogurt with mint and za'atar), a plate of muhammara (a hot pepper dip with walnuts and pomegranate molasses), and lastly a plate of mujadara, a black lentil puree topped with crispy fried onion. This spread alone was enough to draw me in; there is something so delicious about simple bread and dip, and the range of flavors that these four had... mm.
We also enjoyed their "Chicken Lule Kebab" and "Vegetarian Flatbread" (topped with an abundance of avocado slices, slivers of mushroom, eggplant, basil, and kalamata olives), but our undisputed, absolute favorite was the "Mante", a dish with chewy Armenian beef dumplings swimming in a piping hot sumac/garlic yogurt sauce. Unfortunately I couldn't get a good shot of this dish as the light gave out, but trust me, you'll want to order this!
To round out a fantastic meal, try their rosewater rice pudding with crushed pistachio for dessert. It has all the right elements, no?! If you're a rosewater fanatic like me, you'd be happy to know that you can definitely taste it in the pudding; and you get something milky and chewy mixed with a bit of crunch- it's perfect.
Macaron counter at Bottega Louie
Bottega Louie: 700 S. Grand Avenue
Last but not least: for this holiday season, I'm trying to play Santa to everyone and buy individual gifts. I've realized how stressful this actually is, so I thought, I'm just going to find delicious treats I know people will love. I thought of looking no further than the renowned Bottega Louie for the perfect tiny holiday gifts. They're heralded as one of the most popular restaurants in the nation for their pizzas, portobello fries and of course their beautiful arrangement of pastries. And this is for good reason- the ambiance is spectacular day in and day out; their packaging is supreme and displays major attention to detail. Yes, Bottega Louie is bustling at almost all times of the day, but there is something to be said about the way it exudes elegance even when their space is filled to the brim.
I snagged a case of their enrobed caramels and will be picking up a box of macarons when Christmas Eve is nearer; nothing spreads cheer and warm regards quite like a gift from Bottega Louie does.
This post was done in collaboration with the Downtown Center Business Improvement District (DTLA). Visit DowntownLA.com for dining guides and things happening in DTLA
Laura Mercier 'Velour Lovers' lip colour in "Cocoa Pout", lip pencil in "Deep Wine", and cheek color in "Soft Iris"
I'm rather self conscious with my naturally full and pigmented lips, so it's hard to find a lip color that goes on right, and other times a color is too aggressive and makes me feel as if my lips are drawing a ton of unwanted attention. Still, I'm always on the look out for suitable colors that do the whole job elegantly: full coverage, moisturizing, and smooth, long lasting hold without the gaudiness.
I looked into Laura Mercier's makeup collection and picked up the perfect combination for a chic winter look: an edgy red-based plum lip from the 'Velour Lovers' collection and a wispy lavender blush for the cheeks. While perusing the lip stick swatches, I also discovered new colors that work on my cheeks - surprisingly I hadn't tried using purply hues before, considering that they go best with cooler skin tones. I'd attempted deep wine/purple lips in the past, but perhaps leaving out a complementary lip liner (this should never be darker than your lipstick, but maybe a shade lighter) and the right cheek color threw it off. I did the brunt of the work and got the right swatches, all linked above :) if any of you end up trying the Velour Lovers Lip Colour, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. x
Rag & Bone jacket, AGAIN cropped sweater, Theyskens' Theory trousers, Balenciaga bag, The Fifth mules, Larsson & Jennings watch
I like keeping my wardrobe neutral so that any gleam of color will show more easily through jewelry and accessories. With a minimalist design, a delicate watch brings it all together for me, especially when it's complete with a contemporary dial and a rose gold chain metal strap. I'd been eyeing Larsson & Jennings' craftsmanship for some time now; I'm a huge fan of the way they masterfully take a classic accessory and modernize it while still keeping it timeless. This Larsson & Jennings watch is both relaxed and polished, which is what I generally strive for in style— investing in watch accessories knowing they'll remain sleek and versatile is no problem here.